H1B abuse

Last Updated on April 15, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

Hmm. Companies hire H1Bs to pay them less.

And in other news, George W. Bush listens to country music.H1Bs are the worst thing that has happened to the computer industry, aside from all of the massive outsourcing. When you can’t outsource, you drag an indentured servant over here from someplace else and pay him 60% of what you paid his predecessor.

H1B sysadmins make for $17K a year less than U.S.-born sysadmins (such as me). This could explain the dearth of sysadmin-type jobs out there. I had a recruiter contact me this week about a job for an experienced Unix sysadmin. At best I’m a marginal candidate for the job. When he told me the pay, I couldn’t believe it. It was easily $13K a year less than I would have expected, given the qualifications. It’s a step up for me–a small one–but I doubted that someone who was really a good fit for the job would actually take that little.

We’ll see if that job ends up going to an H1B. I suspect it will.

I’ve been contacted for a number of jobs this past week that pay $30,000 a year. No benefits. I told the last guy–obviously an H1B himself–that you can’t live in St. Louis on what he was offering. Well, if you can find an apartment next door to a crackhouse and you drive a 1991 Honda Civic I suppose you can… But I did the math. Adjusted for inflation, that’s less than I made at my first job coming out of college at age 22.

So CEOs slash salary costs and pocket huge bonuses while they take a wrecking ball to the local economy. But they also destroy productivity. I have to deal with a lot of people in my day-to-day job whose first language obviously isn’t English, and it can be hard sometimes. There are an awful lot of problems that come across my desk that literally take 30 seconds to fix. I know this, my boss knows this, and my two coworkers know this. But there are times when I have to read the description of the problem about 12 times before I finally figure out what the problem is and what the writer wanted me to do about it. And I might have to bug one of the other guys to read it to confirm my interpretation. So that 30-second problem can easily balloon into a monster that consumed half a man-hour.

Of course, some genius will take that out of context and use it to argue that U.S.-born workers are lazy, unproductive, and overpaid.

Normally, politicians have no control over the economy. But I think this next crash, when it comes, will be made in Washington.

What economic crash? Let’s think about it. We’ve encouraged a negative savings rate to artificially fuel a sputtering economy, so people are strung out to the point that when gas prices jump 50 cents it’s an economic hardship. Add a 15% cut in salary (whether it happens through a true salary cut or if it happens over the course of several years of raises not keeping pace with inflation) and let’s see what happens. People can’t afford their lifestyles now. Make ’em absorb a 15% cut in salary and see what happens. Oh, and make the bankruptcy laws more difficult while you’re at it.

Yeah, they got smart fellas in Washington. Yee haw.

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6 thoughts on “H1B abuse

  • October 25, 2005 at 11:45 pm

    "The union accuses Miller of creating a new class of working poor. The $10 an hour wages he’s after equal $20,800 a year—less than half the median family income in America. "We helped create the middle class, and that was good for all of America," says former UAW president Doug Fraser. "You hate to see that all unravel."*

    Try a 63% cut in your income and see if you can survive?
    The workers at Delphi are being asked to abrogate their contract and accept these cuts to keep the mangement employed.
    Miller asked immediately for more money for upper management so that they wouldn’t leave. One shouldn’t lose the very management that bankrupted the company.
    Your H1B sysadmins are the first of a wave of labor that will be brought into the U.S. to destroy the wage scale. America must compete in the world economy so the wages must drop to compete.
    The world is changing and everyone must be prepared to change with it. Our parents lived on much less than what we have and we can to.


  • October 28, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Hi Dave,

    "Normally, politicians have no control over the economy. But I think this next crash, when it comes, will be made in Washington."

    Fitting right along with this theme is this article by Peggy Noonan:

    "A Separate Peace
    America is in trouble–and our elites are merely resigned. "

    "…I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it’s a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can’t be fixed, or won’t be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination." "

    Entire article at:



    • October 31, 2005 at 2:10 pm

      I think I probably agreed with every word in that article.

    • October 31, 2005 at 9:15 pm

      The thoughts in this article was the prevailing thoughts of the old timers I worked with in the mid to late ’60’s. They had survived the depression in the Texas oilfields.
      They had a saying that came from the days when the men were steel and the derricks were wood:
      If you can’t get it, you can’t stay.

      Forty years later, we have to get it because there’s no where else to go.

  • October 31, 2005 at 7:48 am

    The problem as I see it is that most IT related work is very much an intellectual job. Sure, the variables are limited in a lot of cases, but it still requires thought.

    This is a problem because it’s not considered an intellectual job. It’s considered more of a blue collar job. Have a large problem with a short timescale? Hire a bunch of guys at reduced wages, give them a little training, and hey, they should be good. This project called for five guys for two years, we just gave them twenty five!

    That’s not how it works. In some industries you can do this – run the assembly line an extra shift, or keep the extra line normally rotated to running instead of on standby. In IT the more people you throw at the problem, the more congested possible solutions become, the more communications required in order to achieve any goal worthwhile. Yet, the executives kick back and say, "Look, Joe, you have all the manpower you need. These resumes looked great! We don’t understand why you’re having issues."

    Well, the resumes looked great but Human Resources didn’t have a clue as to what to actually look for or quiz these guys on. Their resumes were filled with buzzwords and failed consultanting jobs. (We also get to compete against this. If you put out an honest resume you’ll not get a call from any of the large corporate interests because everyone else is padding theirs with bull.) These guys can’t speak English and can’t understand the end users, their requirements, or anything else I’m telling them. They’re not stupid, but you’ve erected this huge wall in the middle of my group that all information has to flow over and I now spend all my time trying to make the information make its way over the wall without being lost in translation.

    I’m experiencing this first hand. We recently hired someone who doesn’t have English as a first language. He’s a great guy, smart, driven, friendly. We like him a lot – but he’s afraid to ask questions because he doesn’t want to look silly, and he’s misinterpreted a great deal of the tasks I’ve given him. It’s frustrating!

    So.. bleh. Executives think you can just throw manpower at a problem. Human Resources doesn’t know what qualifications to hire or what to verify on a candidate’s resume. Head hunters don’t care about the long term health of your department or company, they simply want to get a body into your place for interviewing. The tech industry is still experiencing high unemployment while the industry is begging Washington to let more H1Bs in.

    Oh, and the the individual who claimed that salaries have to fall in line with the rest of the world: really? Does that mean the price of the products will fall too? Because I don’t see that happening. Perhaps CEOs and COOs should take salary cuts until they’re in line with the "rest of the world?" Perhaps the people who’re calling support and getting upset because the guy on the other end of the phone can’t understand a word they’re saying and is simply reading off a white sheet of possible problems should be told that "support will fall inline with the rest of the world." The United States is falling behind in every area of education, we’re in massive amounts of debt, and it’s because of people like you who insist that "we should just get inline." I don’t want to live a substandard life, I don’t want to make substandard wages, and a national identity is not something that I consider optional. It may be a global economy but part of that economy is every country looking out for its own interests – look at the European Union and their import regulations!

    Until the prices on the final products drop, until the individuals from the other countries unionize and demand benefits, until the jobs leave the countries we’re importing from and begin to filter out to other countries… oh wait, that’s already happening. And India said that United States citizens can’t go there and work. But Indians can come here.. but it’s a global economy! Maybe India should just … get inline?

    This whole topic irritates me a great deal.

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